It’s sometimes difficult to comprehend just how incompetent the Obama national-security team is. This report gives us a peek:
The Obama administration, after 16 months of treating President Hamid Karzai with what some U.S. officials called “tough love,” will welcome the Afghan leader Monday with all the trappings of a head of state, in what officials said is the start of a new, more pragmatic approach.
The shift, backed by the Pentagon and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, follows concerns that repeated public criticism of Mr. Karzai, particularly of his commitment to anticorruption efforts, was backfiring, leading the mercurial leader to lash out and undermining U.S. public support for the war. …
U.S. officials said the transition from last month’s bitter tenor to next week’s red carpet is intentional. “The main objective of the trip is to repair the damage” caused by the war of words, says a U.S. official familiar with planning for the visit.
Gen. David Petraeus, who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said public disputes between Mr. Karzai and administration officials “play into the hands of our enemies,” and that the approach had been jettisoned in favor of sustained outreach to the Afghan leader.
Did no one in the White House realize this before the administration went publicly ballistic with a crucial wartime ally? Apparently not:
In interviews, some U.S. officials said there is growing acknowledgment within the administration that the very public criticism of Mr. Karzai’s failings as a leader made the Afghan president more suspicious of American intentions.
“I think we all realized we had gotten ourselves right to the edge of the cliff about a month and a half ago, and there was nowhere to go but jump off the cliff, and that was too scary for everybody,” said a former senior U.S. official who has discussed the visit with top officials in both governments.
One must ask whether anyone realized they were jumping off the cliff with Israel, as well. After all, don’t the screamathons with Bibi, the “condemnations,” and the series of demands from the Obama team for more and more unilateral Israeli concessions “play into the hands” of enemies of Israel and the United States? You’d think there would be key advisers who’d point that out as well. If there are any, Obama isn’t listening to them.
There are two possibilities in these scenarios: total incompetence and mendacity. In the case of Afghanistan, the administration more or less has gotten the policy right; it’s the execution that has been clumsy. In the case of Israel, however, the administration’s obvious animus toward Bibi and its infatuation with the Palestinian narrative suggest that the latter is at play. Their charm offensive is meant to suggest that the problem has been a lack of tact with American Jewry and a failure to make clear how really, madly, honestly, truly the administration is devoted to Israel. But unlike its policy on Afghanistan, in the case of Israel, the administration is wedded to disastrous policies (e.g., distancing ourselves from Israel, obsessing on a stalemated “peace process,” irresoluteness toward Iran, indifference on Muslim human-rights abusers). Until all of that changes or until there is a new Oval Office occupant, Israel remains imperiled.